Not too long ago, several Her Campus members and I discussed topics related to career development, such as tips for resume building and utilizing the professional networking site LinkedIn. Although I have only been on the site for less than a year, I was able to share a few key tips that many hadn’t heard of before! Although we would like to host a night in person next semester to share more tips on using LinkedIn to its full potential, I figured that potential LinkedIn novices would want to see what I’ve done to get started as a user who learned from mere observation and practice.
Here are some tips I learned throughout my brief time on LinkedIn that will help you get started and grow your network steadily:
- Make Personal/Local Connections First
This should be easy for most college students since this is one of the most important times in your life that you will start networking! Whether it’s a trusted professor that you’ve enjoyed attending class for, or an executive board member of an organization you’re involved in, making more personal connections first will be beneficial when you need an endorsement of your skills and/or a letter of recommendation.
Additionally, starting with a local network of people that are doing similar work to what you’re doing or want to do can help you prepare when it comes to finding future employment opportunities. Connecting with your professors will especially be beneficial as it is most likely that they will have at least one connection to someone in the industry you’re looking to get started in. If you’re not already working to make yourself amicable with those in your desired field, then it is definitely advised that you reach out to friends and/or former employers on LinkedIn to gain a solid foundation for folks outside of your circle to notice you.
- Utilize Hashtags
Don’t know what I mean by this? No worries— I didn’t know Linkedin used hashtags when I first joined, but what a great tool to utilize! Just like on Twitter and Instagram, hashtags can be used to draw in a bigger audience to your posts, especially if you’re looking to increase the view count of your work and make potential connections with others in your industry.
As a journalism student, I often utilize hashtags related to not only my career but also to the content I am sharing— For example, I shared an article I wrote with a former colleague on the retrenchment letters sent out to seven universities in the PASSHE system, using broad sweeping tags such as #newarticle and #journalism, as well as more specific tags such as #PASSHE and #westchesteruniversity to draw views. By utilizing these tags, I was able to draw in over 200 views and a dozen profile searches. So, simply put— use the marketing power of hashtags to your advantage!
- Share Your Work with Confidence
Several HC members mentioned that they felt shy and hesitant to put out the work that they’ve done onto their LinkedIn profile page, and what I say to that is this: if you are truly proud of the work that you’ve produced or published, then it deserves to be shared with the world.
Last summer, I published my first breaking news piece to my university newspaper, and as soon as it hit the homepage of the website, I immediately posted and featured it on LinkedIn for people to view. Although this wasn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff, I was confident enough to share each and every piece thereafter that I feel best reflects my journalistic abilities. All in all, don’t be afraid to share your portfolio, resume/CV, or website page with your growing network, you want to show the world what you can do.
- Be A Consistent, Active User
This may seem obvious, but I mention this because I believe that how consistently active you are will determine how quickly your network will expand. I encourage new LinkedIn members to take a leap of faith and spend at least 5 minutes every day making connection requests, as well as sharing, liking, and/or commenting on other’s posts. This shows consistency and that you are genuinely interested in and supportive of the people in your network, and you will most likely see the same support being shown to you.
Additionally, make sure that you are updating your profile and online resume regularly, especially if you’re taking on new roles or involved in multiple organizations.
- Maintain Professionalism
Although LinkedIn may have the social media features of other casual platforms, it is certainly not as unleashed. Meaning, it is absolutely paramount that posting online and speaking to connections/employers to maintain the same professional etiquette online as you would walking into an interview. For instance, sending private messages to people you may not be so familiar with should look and sound similar to an email, rather than a text message. Or, making sure that the content you share is within the site’s guidelines.
Remember: you never know who will be your gateway to landing your dream job, so don’t jeopardize it by posting something you might regret.
Overall, LinkedIn is a valuable tool to connect and learn from others in your desired industry, so make sure you keep these tips in mind to help you get started and stand out!